All-22: Nick Foles Brilliant Against the Washington Redskins

The Philadelphia Eagles squared off against the Washington Redskins this past Sunday in what turned out to be another in a long line of classic NFC East divisional games. For the third straight week, Nick Foles lead a 4th quarter game winning drive in what my opinion was the best game he’s played in his career. Yes, even better than his seven touchdown performance against the Oakland Raiders last season. Foles put the team on his back Sunday and carried them across the finish line, and he took a heck of a beating while doing it. He completed just about every throw in the book on Sunday; square outs, curl routes, seam routes, fly routes, crossing routes, etc… and he did so while under extreme duress at times. So in this week’s All-22, I’ll take a look at some of the key passing plays from this past Sunday.

On this first play, Foles completes a touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews for Matthews’ first career touchdown. I highlighted this play to show the importance of the rushing attack for this offense and how geared up Washington was to stop it. Look at how linebacker Perry Riley bites hard on the playaction fake, leaving a wide open space behind him for an easy pitch and catch between Foles and Matthews.
01 foles TD to matthews

This next play comes on 2nd and 5 on the Eagles final drive of the first half. Foles rolls out to his left and is able to hit Matthews in stride for a first down. Foles makes this play look easy, but it is no simple task to hit a guy in stride while rolling out to your left. Not to mention that had this throw been just slightly behind Matthews it would have been broken up by safety Brandon Meriweather.
02 foles roll out left to matthews

Four plays later, Foles hits Matthews for another touchdown on the same route they scored the first one on. This time there is no playaction before the throw. Perry Riley has tight coverage on Matthews, but it doesn’t matter as Foles fits this ball in there perfectly and Matthews does a great job of hauling in the pass while getting both feet down in the end zone. Look at how Foles throws with anticipation on this play. At the time he begins his windup, Matthews isn’t even at the same depth as Riley, let alone behind him.
03 foles second td to matthews

Here is a look from behind the line so you can see what Foles was looking at on this play and how tight a window he was throwing into. The other key part about the timing of this throw is that by the time Riley turns his head to look back for the pass, it’s too late and he is unable to get his hands to the ball as it’s going over his head.
04 2nd td to matthews end zone view

This next play comes from midway through the fourth quarter on the Eagles’ go-ahead drive. It’s 3rd and eight, and Foles delivers a strike to Jeremy Maclin on a deep curl route in the face of pressure. Maclin does an excellent job of catching this pass and getting his knee down. This play was initially ruled as an incomplete pass but was overturned on a challenge by Chip Kelly. Once again, look at the anticipation by Foles. He begins his windup before Maclin even makes his cut. Had he waited until Maclin made his cut to throw, the cornerback would have had a chance to make a play on this ball.
05 foles to maclin first down

Here is a look from the end zone view so you can see the pressure Foles was under on this pass. The Skins run a double stunt to perfection on this play, freeing up Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan to get a clean shot on Foles. It is no matter though, as Foles stands tall, plants his feet, and delivers this throw knowing full well he is about to take a big hit.
06 foles to maclin end zone view

Two plays later, Foles hits Maclin on a seam route for the go-ahead touchdown. Maclin shows on this play that he knows the tricks of the trade when it comes to route running. Watch as he starts off on this play running on a slight angle to his right. This gets Meriweather’s hips pointed to the outside. Maclin then cuts back to the inside, forcing Meriweather to change his hip position as he turns to run downfield, during which time Maclin is able to get separation and beat Meriweather down the field. It’s those little nuances of route running that can make the difference between getting open and being covered.
07 go ahead TD to maclin

This final play was Foles’ last throw of the game. The situation is 2nd and 11 with 1:43 left to play. A first down wins the game as the Skins only have one timeout left. Foles is going to roll out to his left and hit tight end James Casey on an out route for the game clinching first down. Great playcall by Kelly, and great execution by Foles and offense. Foles fits this ball in there perfectly, throwing it into Casey’s gut as opposed to leading him out in front, preventing cornerback David Amerson from getting his hands to the ball. It should be noted that he was also able to do this while he had Meriweather coming full speed ahead at him.
08 game ending pass to casey

Here is a look from behind, so you can see the ball placement and how it prevented Amerson from being able to get his hands to the ball.
09 game ending pass behind view

If he hasn’t done so already, Foles is starting to really turn some heads and prove that he isn’t just a quarterback who can put up big numbers when things are going good, but a quarterback who can win games in the face of adversity. Even Chris Collinsworth seems to be coming around on him based on my “brief discussion” with him via Twitter last night.
Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 7.35.47 AM

Well that raps up this week’s All-22 review. The Eagles head out west to San Fransisco this Sunday as they look to improve to 4-0 in what should be a hard fought game.

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Nick Foles is Tough, Chris Baker is Cheap, and Jason Peters is the Man

In 15 words or less, that’s the best way I can sum up the melee that occurred between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter this past Sunday.

Here is what Baker had to say about his block on Foles (courtesy of Sheil Kapadia of Phillymag):
“The whistle had not been blown. He was going towards the ball, the ballcarrier was taking a right and he could have made the tackle. I did not even really hit him hard. I just happened to hit him on his shoulder, and he happened to fall. He’s the quarterback and I guess that’s why there was an ejection.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Baker, video doesn’t lie.
Foles dirty hit

Baker says that the ballcarrier was taking a right and that Foles could have made the tackle. As seen here, that’s not the case. It also would have been impossible for Foles to make a tackle on the play considering that the ballcarrier was already tackled before Baker laid his hit on Foles. This was nothing more than a defensive player taking a cheap shot on the opposing team’s quarterback to try to take him out of the game.

Fortunately for the Eagles, it didn’t work. Not only did Foles get up, but he threw the go-ahead touchdown pass two plays later. As Chip Kelly put it, Nick Foles is one “tough sucker”, and that’s been evident since his college days at the University of Arizona. As Kelly said back in January of 2013 when he was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles,
“We hit him as many times as we could hit him (at Oregon), and he just kept getting up and making plays. He completed a 15-yard pass left-handed against us once. I remember just standing on the sideline shaking my head, going, ‘I don’t know what we have to do to stop him.’

If you haven’t seen the play Kelly referenced on that January day, here it is.

Nick Foles is one tough son of a gun, and I’m glad he’s the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback.

All 22 Review: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts

For the second straight week, the Philadelphia Eagles found themselves trailing in a game going into halftime, and for the second straight week the Eagles pulled off a dramatic fourth quarter comeback. Unlike last week’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars where the Eagles couldn’t move the ball in the first half, the Eagles put up 228 yards of offense Monday night against the Colts. The “tale of two halves” theme this week in the end came down to red zone efficiency.

In the first half the Eagles and Colts offenses both got into scoring range three times. However, the Eagles came away with 6 points on those three drives while the Colts came away with 17 points. In the second half, leading up to each team’s final drive they once again got into scoring range three times. This time, the Eagles came away with 21 points while the Colts scored 10, making it a 27-27 game. And then on the Colt’s last drive the Eagles defense forced them to go three and out, and subsequently the Eagles offense drove down the field for the game winning field goal to win 30-27.

This week, I’ll take a look at some of the key factors of the game that lead to the Eagles’ victory.

As noted above, the Eagles had difficulties in the red zone in the first half as they failed to finish drives with touchdowns. In the red zone, the importance of good playcalling and execution are heightened as the slightest mistake can result in a negative play and be the difference between scoring seven points or three.

The following play comes on the Eagles’ first drive on second and goal from the twelve yard line. The Eagles have a numbers advantage on this play as the Colts only have four defenders in the box compared to the Eagles’ five blockers. This is the perfect scenario for the Eagles’ run game and should result in a sizable gain. However, a miscue along the offensive line results in middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson being left unblocked, and he makes the tackle on LeSean McCoy in the backfield.
01 redzone middle

Midway through the second quarter, the Eagles once gain found themselves down by the goal line, and once again a negative run on second down sets up a long third and goal situation. The Eagles run a toss play to McCoy, but this time the Colts have the numbers advantage as they have seven players to the strong side of the play and the Eagles only have six blockers. As a result, outside linebacker Erik Walden is going to be left unblocked to tackle McCoy for a four yard loss.
04 mccoy toss left redzone

In the first half, good playcalling and scheming got the Colts run game going as they ran multiple counters from behind an unbalanced line. As you’ll see on this play, the Colts have tight end Dwayne Allen lined up at left tackle and have moved left tackle Anthony Castonzo to the right side of the line. The Eagles respond by loading up the strong side of the line, leaving only Brandon Bair and Trent Cole to the weakside. However, the Colts end up running a counter to the weakside and open up a huge hole for running back Trent Richardson to run through for a 15 yard gain.
02 colts run unbalanced line 15 yard gain

Here is another example of the Colts getting a large gain off of a counter play with an unbalanced line. Once again the Eagles only have two players lined up on the weakside of the line. On this play, tight ends Dwayne Allen (83) and Jack Doyle (84) do a great job of sealing off linebackers Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans to allow Richardson to surge through the hole and pick up another 15 yard gain.
05 colts run unbalanced line 15 yards

The Eagles run defense settled down in the second half thanks to some halftime adjustments and great execution along the defensive line. As CSN Philly’s Geoff Mosher pointed out, the Colts picked up 100 yards on the ground on their first 18 carries (5.5 yards per carry), as compared to 49 yards on their last 16 carries (3 yards per carry).

On this play, nose tackle Benny Logan does an excellent job of getting penetration, shoving right guard Hugh Thornton into the backfield and then making the tackle on Richardson for a loss.
06 benny logan run stuff

Fletcher Cox displays some excellent effort and playmaking skills on this play as he forces a fumble on Trent Richardson. Once again, the Colts are in an unbalanced line and run a counter to the weakside. The Eagles are lined up just as they were in the first half, but this time Fletcher Cox is ready for the play that is about to happen. Watch as he throws left guard Jack Mewhort aside and then keeps his balance and fights through the block attempt from Dwayne Allen before getting into the backfield and punching the ball out of Richardson’s hands. This was an amazing play by Cox.
07 fletcher cox forced fumble

On this next play, the Colts are again lined up in an unbalanced line, but this time they run a counter play to the strong side of the line. As the play develops, it looks like the Colts have a numbers advantage as they have seven blockers to the Eagles five defenders, but Cedric Thornton and Benny Logan do a great job of holding their ground and Mychal Kendricks crashes into guard Jack Mewhort to clog up the hole.
09 thornton and logan stuff

I’ll finish up this week’s review by focusing on the star of the Eagles’ offense from Monday night, newly acquired running back Darren Sproles.

This play shows why Darren Sproles is such a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. The Eagles come out with two tight ends, two receivers, and Sproles in the backfield. The Colts respond by coming out in their base 3-4 defense and are in man coverage. This leaves Sproles one on one with linebacker Josh McNary. Sproles is going to come out of the backfield and run an angle route across the field and Foles does a great job of being able to hit him in stride even as he’s being tackled around the legs. Look at how much space Sproles has in front of him as he catches this pass. The two closest defenders to Sproles who are actually aware that Sproles even has the ball are over 20 yards away. Wide receiver Riley Cooper continues his route downfield which causes the cornerback covering him to follow him all the way, effectively taking himself out of the play.

03 sproles 57 yard catch

Sproles scores a touchdown on this 19 yard run off an inside zone play to make it a 20-20 game late in the third quarter. The Colts over commit to the play side leaving the back side wide open for Sproles to bounce this run outside. Sproles puts a move on safety Mike Adams and then is able to run to the inside of Jeremy Maclin as he does a great job of blocking cornerback Greg Toler. Sproles then pinballs his way to the end zone bouncing off five tackle attempts.
08 sproles td run

Sproles set up the game tying touchdown on this play as he takes a screen pass 51 yards down to the Colts six yard line. This play all starts with the offensive line and Sproles not selling the fact that they are about to run a screen. The offensive line gets the defensive line behind them and out of the play. This leaves center Jason Kelce and guards Todd Herramins and Dennis Kelly to get down the field, and the Colts only have two defenders in position to make a play. This frees up Kelce to get further downfield to lay a block on D’Qwell Jackson to spring Sproles for even more yards. Great playcall and great execution.

10 sproles screen

The last play of this week’s All-22 review is the screen pass to Sproles that sets up the game winning touchdown. The Eagles put McCoy and Sproles on the field at the same time on this play, forcing the Colts to play a game of pick your poison. As you can see, at the snap of the ball all six Colts defenders are focused on McCoy in the backfield. This leaves only linebacker Josh McNary to focus on Sproles. Tight end Zach Ertz puts a block on McNary, allowing Sproles to burst by the line of scrimmage and Jason Kelce gets downfield to block cornerback/safety Darius Butler to pick up an additional 10 yards.
11 sproles quick screen

That does it for this week’s All-22 review. The Washington Redskins come to Philadelphia this Sunday as the Eagles try to extend their record to 3-0 in their first NFC East game of the season.

Check back in next week and don’t forget to click the “follow” button on the right hand of the page in order to get email updates whenever a post is made on this site.

All-22 Review: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Welcome back to the NFL regular season Eagles fans. Here at Inside The Eagles, I’ll be providing you with
All-22 recaps of each game every week. To any new fans here, welcome and I hope you enjoy the analysis provided. To my loyal followers, welcome back. Let’s get started.

The Eagles came away with a 34-17 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week one it what could best be described as an erratic and up and down performance. Miscues on defense and missed opportunities on offense made this game much closer than it should have been (and that’s saying something considering the Eagles won by 17 points). I’ll start off with the negative plays and then finish with the positive plays to show how the Eagles came away with the win.

Offensively, quarterback Nick Foles did not look comfortable early on and just did not look like he was seeing the field clearly as he took a few bad sacks. The Jaguars played zone defense on a majority of the Eagles’ passing plays, and I think that caught Foles and the coaching staff off guard as they may have been expecting to see more man coverage. Playing so much zone defense can be a risky proposition against the Eagles’ high tempo offense. With plays being run so quickly, it forces the defensive players to really be on the ball and focused. With a zone defense, one guy being in the wrong spot can result in a huge play being given up. That happened multiple times this game, it just so happens that the Eagles weren’t able to capitalize on all of them. Here were a few instances where the Eagles left big plays on the field.

This first play comes from midway through the first quarter. A blown assignment results in wide receiver Jeremy Maclin running free downfield, but Foles doesn’t see him and ends up taking a bad sack and fumbling the ball.
02 Foles fumble maclin open

On this next play, Foles is able to freeze linebacker Geno Hayes with a playaction fake, but then is off the mark on his throw to wide receiver Jordan Matthews who gets open on a deep slant.
04 foles misses matthews

This next play comes from the third quarter. Once again Maclin is going to be open on a fly route, but Foles doesn’t pull the trigger. To make matters worse, Cooper ends up being left completely uncovered as Foles scrambles to his left. The end result is a five yard pass to runningback LeSean McCoy, but it could have been much more.
08 maclin and cooper open

Now onto some positive plays. The Eagles went back to the same play I showed above where Foles missed Matthews on the deep slant. This time, it’s linebacker Telvin Smith who bites on the playaction fake, opening up a throwing lane for Foles to hit Matthews right in stride for a 30 yard gain. Unfortunately, this drive ended with Foles throwing an interception in the red zone.
05 foles hits matthews

With the Eagles trailing 17-0 early in the third quarter, a Darren Sproles 49 yard touchdown run sparked their comeback. This play highlighted the importance of the Eagles’ versatility on offense as well as showed why defending against a high tempo offense can be so difficult. On the play leading up to Sproles’ touchdown run, it was third down and nine to go. The Jaguars were in a nickle package to defend against the pass. The Eagles ran a screen pass to Sproles which resulted in an eight yard gain, setting up a fourth and one. The Eagles immediately got lined up without subbing, meaning that the Jaguars could not sub out of their nickle package. So now it’s fourth down and one yard to go and the Eagles have called a run right up the middle. The Jaguars are left defending a short yardage run play with the same package of players that were on the field to defend against a third and long situation. This puts them at a huge disadvantage because offensively, the Eagles have no problem running an inside zone run with the same package of players that was on the field for third down. To make matters even worse for the Jaguars, not only do not they not have a package on the field suitable for the situation, but the Jaguars coaches had little time to get a play in to their defense and the defenders have little time to get properly lined up as only 15 seconds elapsed from the time Sproles was tackled to the time that the Eagles offense was lined up to run the next play. Here is the play:
06 sproles td run

The Eagles made it a three point game on the very next drive when Foles hit tight end Zach Ertz on a seam route for a 25 yard touchdown on 3rd down. Ertz runs his route straight downfield getting in between linebackers Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith, and Foles does a good job with the timing of his throw to drop it into Ertz before the safeties can make a play on the ball.
07 ertz TD

This next play lead to the Eagles tying up the game on a 51-yard field goal from rookie kicker Cody Parkey. Foles is able to freeze linebacker Posluszny with a play-action fake just long enough to open up a throwing lane as Ertz runs his seam route downfield splitting linebackers Posluszny and LaRoy Reynolds. The result is a 26-yard gain that puts the Eagles in field goal range.
09 ertz playaction

On the Eagles’ first play of their very next drive, they run a play very similar to the one shown above (albeit from a slightly different formation). Once again the play starts off with a play-action fake and Zach Ertz is going to run a seam route with Maclin running a fly route next to him. The Jaguars are in zone defense with safety Chris Prosinski as the single high safety. As he sees the play develop, he charges forward towards Ertz thinking that the play is going to him again. By doing this, he abandons his deep coverage responsibility, and Maclin is left uncovered as he runs down the field. The result is a 68-yard touchdown pass.
10 maclin td

Defensively, things started off a little shaky for the Eagles. The offense didn’t do the defense any favors by turning the ball over in their own zone, but the defense still allowed two 20+ yard touchdowns to undrafted free agent receiver Allen Hurns.

This play is the first touchdown pass to Allen Hurns. As Hurns runs downfield and gets into his post route, cornerback Cary Williams takes an outside position and it looks as if he’s expecting safety Nate Allen to have deep help to the inside. However, Allen steps forward to cut off tight end Mercedes Lewis on an out route, which opens up a window downfield for quarterback Chad Henne to lead Hurns to the end zone for the touchdown.
01 allen deep TD

Two plays after the Eagles turned the ball over for the second time in their own zone, Henne connects with Hurns again for a 21-yard touchdown. Safety Malcolm Jenkins is going to move to his left after the snap as he’s reading the bubble screen to the slot receiver, however this opens up a window for Henne to throw to Hurns on a deep slant route, and Hurns picks up some yards after the catch to get into the endzone.
03 jenkins bites on td

The Eagles’ defense settled down as they only allowed three more points for the rest of the game, and this played a huge part in their come from behind victory. One of the key factors to the defense’s success for the rest of the game was their ability to get off the field on third down. This was an area they struggled with in 2013 so it was good to see them show some early improvements here. The Eagles were able to stymie the Jaguars on third down as they stopped them from picking up a first down on 12 of their 14 third down tries. Here are a few third down plays from the game.

This first play comes from late in the first quarter on a third down and ten. Safety Nate Allen is going to come on a blitz, and Trent Cole (lined up as a defensive end on this play) is going to fake a rush but then drop back into coverage. Cole does an excellent job of selling the rush, causing left tackle Luke Joeckel to completely miss Allen as he runs by. Allen is able to get to Henne and knock the ball out of his hands which goes into the stat book as a nine-yard sack.
def 01 allen sack

The Eagles defense stops running back Toby Gerhart from converting this play on third and one. Nose tackle Benny Logan does a great job of holding his ground and linebacker Conner Barwin does a an excellent job of crashing into tight end Mercedes Lewis, pushing him into the backfield to clog up the hole.
def 02 3rd down stop

The Eagles were able to stop the Jaguars from converting another third-and-one in the second quarter. Newly acquired defensive end Brandon Bair does an excellent job of holding the point of attack on this play as he’s being blocked by two offensive linemen. Bair not only holds his ground against two blockers on this play, but actually surges through and ends up making the tackle with linebacker DeMeco Ryans coming in at the end to clean up any mess.
def 03 blair stop on 3rd and 1

That does it for this week’s All-22 review. The Eagles head to Indianapolis for a Monday night showdown this week as the Colts look to rebound from their week one loss to the Denver Broncos. Be sure to check in during the week for my All-22 review of that game. You can also click the “follow” button on the right side of this page and you will get an email notification when it is up.

Nick Foles and the Art of Throwing Receivers Open

As a quarterback in the NFL, timing is extremely important when it comes to completing a pass. When a defender is in tight coverage, there is a small window of opportunity for the quarterback to be able to get the ball to his receiver. This window opens up immediately after the receiver makes his cut and creates separation from the defender, and then begins to close rather quickly as the defender recovers and gets back into position to make a play on the ball. This is where timing and anticipation come in. If the quarterback is able to begin his windup just as the receiver is beginning to make his cut and is able to put the ball in a spot that allows the receiver to catch it in stride as he is coming out of his break, the result will be a completed pass, even if the defender had great coverage on the play. If the quarterback waits too long to deliver the football, that window of opportunity may have already been shut and now the defender is able to make a play on the ball and break up the pass. For the folks watching the game at home, the play looks like a simple case of great coverage and a great play made by the defender. For the coaches and players reviewing the game film afterwards, this was a missed opportunity for positive yardage.

The act of being able to properly time and anticipate throws like this is dubbed by many analysts as “throwing your receiver open”. It is called this because at the time the quarterback begins his throw, the receiver is covered, but at the time the ball gets to the receiver, there is now separation between him and the defender because he has just completed making his cut and created a few steps of space between them. Thus, the quarterback has effectively “thrown” his receiver open. When a quarterback is able to do this, it makes the pass nearly impossible to defend.

Nick Foles showed last year that he possesses this skill, and it’s one of the many reasons why I think he’ll have another successful season this year. There is no defense for a perfectly thrown ball, and I see Foles getting even better at throwing his receivers open this year than he was last year. The following are some examples of Foles throwing his receivers open during the 2013 season. In each clip, the play is paused at the time that Foles begins his windup, and each time you’ll see that there is no separation between the receiver and the defender.

The first play comes from the week five game against the New York Giants. Foles throws a touchdown to wide receiver DeSean Jackson on a fade route to the back corner of the endzone. On this play, Foles begins his throw just as Jackson begins to make his cut. The cornerback defending Jackson has no idea that the ball is even in the air, which gives Jackson the freedom to make his move and create space, and then go up and get the ball before the defender even knows what happens.
001_jackson fade nyg

This next play is another fade route. This time it’s to wide receiver Riley Cooper during the Oakland Raider game. Foles throws this ball to the back pylon, and once again he begins his throw before Cooper is open. The result is a touchdown.
01_cooper fade oakland

This next play is a wheel route to runningback LeSean McCoy against the Washington Redskins. McCoy is covered by Ryan Kerrigan, which is a mis-match that Foles exploits for a big gain. Once again, Foles doesn’t wait until he sees that McCoy is open to begin his throw. On this play, he doesn’t necessarily “throw” McCoy open as there is no chance that Kerrigan catches him from behind, but he still does make the throw before McCoy has broken free.
02_mccoy wheel washington

This next play comes on a post route to tight end Zach Ertz against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are in a zone defense on this play, and Foles is able to lead Ertz into the space in between the two safeties for a touchdown. The timing and accuracy of the throw are key on plays like this. Since Foles is able to begin his throw before Ertz begins his cut, by the time the ball arrives the safety is in no position to be able to make a play on the pass. All he can do is tackle Ertz into the end zone. Had Foles waited a split second longer to make this throw, the safety would have been in position to be able to get a hand on the ball and break up the pass. And that’s how a split second can be the difference between an incomplete pass and seven points.
03_ertz post corner AZ

The following play comes on a deep square-in to Riley Cooper against the Washington Redskins. Once again, note the timing. Foles begins his throw as Cooper is making his cut, and the result is a 20+ yard play as the ball gets to Cooper just as he’s coming out of his break and has created separation between himself and the cornerback.
04_cooper square in washington

This last play is another deep square-in to Riley Cooper. This time it comes against the Arizona Cardinals. Just as in the play above, Foles begins his throw as Cooper is making his cut. At the time Foles begins his wind up, there is no separation between Cooper and the cornerback, but at the time the ball gets to Cooper, there is now a little over a yard of separation between himself and the defender. The defender is able to close in after the fact and make the tackle, but not before giving up a 15 yard gain and a first down.
05_cooper square in AZ

Foles’ ability to consistently make throws like this will make it very hard for defenses to prevent the Eagles from moving the chains and getting into the end zone in 2014. A perfect throw almost always beats perfect coverage, and the Philadelphia Eagles have a quarterback who can routinely make the perfect throw.

Nick Foles Highlights 2013-14: Making Plays Under Pressure

Much has been made of Nick Foles’ record setting 2013-14 season. But one common criticism mistakenly thrown his way is his supposed inability to make plays when his initial read isn’t there, and/or when he has to use his legs. This video sets out to destroy that criticism, and is a compilation of plays made by Foles under pressure. These plays include making throws just as he’s about to get hit, making throws to beat the blitz, making throws on the run, and using his legs to escape the pocket and pick up yards on the ground. Hope you enjoy!

Philadelphia Eagles vs Minnesota Vikings All-22 Film Review

Well, I guess the winning streak had to come to an end at some point. This game had every feeling of a trap game, and unfortunately for us Eagles fans, it turned out to be exactly that. In this post, I’ll examine some of the key plays, good and bad, that brought about a loss for the Eagles this week.

First up is Matt Cassel’s 57 yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings. Cassel may be a backup at this point in his career, but you can’t sleep on him. He has shown the ability to play at a high level, and he can play the position like a true pro. Throws like this are perfect examples of that. Nate Allen is playing deep, but Cassel looks him off to his left, thus opening up space for Jennings on the deep right part of the field. He then works the pocket, stepping up to prevent Trent Cole and Fletcher Cox from getting to him before delivering a perfect strike for the touchdown.

01_jennings td

Here’s the view from the endzone so you can see how Cassel works the pocket on this play.

01a_second view

The Eagles’ ensuing drive stalled in the redzone when on 3rd down, Nick Foles was sacked by Jared Allen. Foles was looking in Riley Cooper’s direction after the snap. Cooper runs a square in on this play, but is covered tightly. I’m not sure if there was some mis-communication there, it almost looked like he was about to run a fade route but ended up running the square in. What was missed is that on the right side of the field, Zach Ertz got open on a corner route (which they connected on later in the game)

02_foles sack

On the next Eagles’ drive which resulted in a field goal (we’ll get to that later), Foles made a clutch throw on 3rd and 9, delivering a 17 yard strike to Desean Jackson as Minnesota linebacker Audie Cole came in unblocked on a blitz. Check out the job of Foles does of standing in the pocket to deliver this ball, taking a few steps to his right to by an extra split second of time before setting his feet to throw, knowing full well he’s about to get creamed.

04_foles throw in pressure on 3rd downAnd now we get to why that drive ended in a field goal. Chip Kelly made a gutsy call to go for it on 4th down, and makes an even gutsier call to run a double reverse which ends up scoring a touchdown, only to get called by due to an illegal block by Nick Foles. Even though the play ended up not counting, I’m going to show it anyway because it really was a great call that caught the Vikings completely by surprise, so here it is.

05_reverse td

With the Eagles trailing 24-9 early in the 3rd quarter, their second drive of the half ended with a Nick Foles interception. This was just a bad read and decision by Foles on this play. The Vikings have the deep pass sniffed out as defensive back Shaun Prater initially starts off on Riley Cooper, but then releases him to the safety and goes to cover Jackson. If Foles was going to throw to Jackson on this play, he needed to hit him on his first cut to the sideline immediately after the playaction fake. By the time Foles threw to Jackson, it was too late. At that point, he should have just hit his checkdown to Chris Polk to his left for the safe gain.

06 foles int

The Eagles began to mount a comeback late in the third quarter when Nick Foles connected with Desean Jackson on a 30 yard touchdown pass on a corner route. Foles does a great job on this play of looking off the safety, preventing him from being in position to make a play on this pass.
07 jackson td

And here is the endzone view.
07a jackson td 2nd view

And finally we come to the play that in my opinion put the dagger in the Eagles’ hopes of a comeback and completely deflated their sails. After scoring 2 straight touchdowns to make it a 5 point game, the Eagles’ defense had the Vikings in a 3rd down situation with 14 yards to go on the Eagles 42 yard line. But they give up a 37 yard pass to tight end Chase Ford which lead to a touchdown and shifted the momentum back in the Vikings’ favor. Eagles’ linebacker Mychal Kendricks has Ford in man coverage on this play, but Ford ends up winning this battle to make the catch just beyond Kendricks’ outstretched fingers. Colt Anderson then makes things worse with a missed tackle that allows Ford to pick up an additional 25 yards after the catch. Here is the play

08 3rd down conversionWell that’s it for this week’s All-22 review. The Eagles face the Chicago Bears Sunday night in Philadelphia, which potentially could decide the NFC East division championship if Dallas loses to Washington earlier in the day.

All-22 Review: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals

In this week’s segment of All-22 film reviews, I break down 4 plays from the Week 13 game vs. the Arizona Cardinals.  Let’s get into it…

Desean Jackson 14 yard Bubble Screen

This first play comes from the first drive of the second quarter for the Eagles.  On this play, Jackson, Brent Celek, and Zach Ertz are going to be out wide to the right, with Celek and Ertz set up as blockers for the screen pass to Desean.  Here is the diagram of the play.01

As you can see, the numbers for the screen pass are in the Eagles’ favor.  They have 3 receivers to the right, and Arizona has only 2 defenders.  Celek and Ertz are going to lay good blocks on their men, springing Jackson for a 14 yard gain.  Here is the play in motion.
Desean Jackson bubble screen on Make A Gif

Riley Cooper 24 yard reception

This play came later in the 2nd quarter, and it’s a play we’ve seen before with similar success.  Here is the diagram of the play.01

McCoy is going to come across Foles for the handoff, but Foles reads the weakside safety creeping up to the line of scrimmage, leaving Riley Cooper single covered as he runs a curl route.  Foles pulls the ball back and fires it out to Cooper.  The pass is high, but Cooper bails Foles out with an amazing one-handed grab, makes the cornerback miss, and takes this play for a 24 yard gain.  The Eagles ran this same exact play against Tampa Bay a few weeks back and turned it into a 40+ yard gain.

Here is the play in motion.
Riley Cooper Curl Route on Make A Gif

Nick Foles 9 yard read option keeper

This play came on the first drive of the 3rd quarter that lead to the touchdown that gave the Eagles a 24-7 lead. Here is the diagram of the play.01

The Eagles are set up for the bubble screen on the left side of the field, but the Cardinals have 3 men on that side and have it covered.  McCoy comes across for the handoff, but the unblocked outside linebacker (John Abraham) crashes in on McCoy, leaving the outside wide open for Nick Foles to run. Jason Peters does a great job on this play of getting to the second level and putting a good block on Karlos Dansby, guaranteeing that Foles will have a comfortable running lane on this play.

Here is the play in motion.
Nick Foles Read Option on Make A Gif

Zach Ertz 24 yard TD reception

This play gave the Eagles a 24-7 lead early in the third quarter.  The Cardinals are in a zone defense on this play.  Ertz is going to run a deep post route, and be 1 on 1 with safety Rashad Johnson.  Here is the diagram of the play.01

Ertz does a great job of selling the corner route, drawing the safety away from the middle of the field just enough to make Foles’ job a little easier.  This play is a textbook anticipation throw by Nick Foles.  As you’ll see from the clip below, as Nick Foles releases the ball, Ertz is just starting to make his cut.  Foles throws the ball with perfect accuracy, hitting Ertz right in stride on the post route, and with perfect timing as Johnson can’t get there in time to make a play on the ball.  Here is the play motion.
Zach Ertz TD on Make A Gif
That’s it for this week’s All-22 review, see you next time!

Anatomy of a Play: Week 11 vs. the Washington Redskins

As this blog is brand new, this will be the first of what I plan on making a weekly segment titled “Anatomy of a Play”. In these segments, I’ll analyze a few key plays from the Eagles game using the All-22 coach’s film and show how and why the play developed the way it did, and try to show you things that may not have been made aware during the live broadcast of the game. In this week’s edition of Anatomy of a Play, I’ll analyze three offensive plays from the week 11 matchup against the Washington Redskins.  Here we go…

49 yard pass to LeSean McCoy on a Wheel Route

On this play, a simple wheel route turns into a 49 yard play due to the Eagles offense exploiting a mismatch in the Redskins defense. Here is a diagram of the play. McCoy wheel route_1st and 10

The route in red is McCoy’s. I have the other players’ routes in green and the Redskins assignments in yellow.  As you can see below, the Redskins are in man coverage, with one deep safety, but he is on the other side of the field from where McCoy runs his route. Furthermore, the Redskins have outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan matched up 1 on 1 with McCoy, that’s a huge mismatch for the Eagles to exploit. And as you can tell, there is going to be nothing but wide open space for McCoy to run his route.  Foles hits him perfectly in stride which allows him to run for an additional 32 yards after he catches this pass.

Here is the play in motion
McCoy wheel route on Make A Gif

43 yard screen pass to Brent Celek

This big play is the result of a great play design and perfect execution.

celek screen_1st and 10

The player circled in red is Brent Celek. The three offensive linemen with red lines are (from right to left) Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, and Jason Kelce.  These are the three linemen who are going to go out to block for the screen.  The play starts by having Bryce Brown go in motion (shown in blue) which draws London Fletcher with him, clearing out the middle of the field.  Peters, Mathis, and Kelce do an excellent job of selling their blocks and waiting until the last moment to go out and block for the screen, which prevents the Redskins’ defensive linemen from sniffing this play out.

Here is the play in motion.  Watch in the middle as I pause the clip and circle Todd Herramins who lays an excellent crack-back block on a defensive linemen who might have had a chance of tackling Celek from behind.
Celek Screen Pass on Make A Gif

19 yard pass to Desean Jackson on a Corner Route

This last play was not a huge play like the other two, but I wanted to highlight it because it really was a perfect pass by Nick Foles in difficult coverage, and it was on 3rd down with 11 yards to go.  Here is the diagram of the play.Djax deep out_3rd and 11

Jackson’s route is in red, with the other receiver’s routes in blue.  Washington is playing a zone defense on this play.  As you’ll see from the following clip, to complete this pass, Nick Foles has to throw this ball over the hands of the outside cornerback but put enough zip on it and throw it with such precise timing that it gets to Jackson before the safety can get there. If this ball had been late or underthrown, it is at risk at being intercepted. But Foles throws it with perfect timing and accuracy and completes it to Jackson for a 19 yard gain.  Here is the play in motion
D Jackson deep corner on Make A Gif
Well that’s it for this week’s edition of Anatomy of a Play.  Hope you enjoyed it and have a great bye week!

Inside the Numbers: YAC YAC YAC

Yards after the catch, otherwise known as YAC.  It’s an important stat in any offense and it’s a staple of the Chip Kelly offense. It’s one of the main reasons why the Eagles lead the NFL in the amount of 20+ yard pass plays with 56.  The next closest team is the Denver Broncos who have 46 passing plays of 20 yards or more (The Eagles also lead the NFL with 16 passing plays of 40 yards or more). Getting good YAC is a sign of 3 things: a) A quality play design which results in a player having the opportunity to catch the ball in space, b) An accurately thrown pass that hits the intended target in stride and allows the player to run after the catch, and c) The intended target being able to haul in the catch while maintaining his speed and being able to make a play once the ball is in his hands. The Eagles got a ton of all three on Sunday vs. the Redskins and it was a big factor in their explosive offensive output.

Nick Foles completed 17 of 26 passes on Sunday for 298 yards.  Of those 298 yards, 178 of them came as a result of yards gained after the catch.  That’s nearly 60% of his total output. Furthermore, 178 yards on 17 completions comes out to 10.5 YAC per completion.  That’s a lot of YAC.

Some of these plays came as a result of properly timed and executed screen passes which caught the defense off guard, such as the 24 yard screen to Bryce Brown and the 43 yard screen to Brent Celek. Other plays came as a result of accurate throws by Foles which allowed his receivers to pick up chunks of yards after the catch, such as the 26 yard pass to Desean Jackson (24 yards gained after the catch), the 16 yard catch by Zach Ertz (12 yards gained after the catch). and the 49 yard pass play to LeSean McCoy shown below (32 yards gained after the catch).
KF8kJS on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

Bonus Stat

Nick Foles has been performing very well against the blitz this year, consistently finding the open man and making teams pay for sending additional rushers.  Sunday was no exception.  The Redskins blitzed Foles 10 times.  Of those 10 blitz attempts, Foles completed 5 of 8 passes for 104 yards (13 yards per attempt), ran once for 7 yards, and was sacked once.  He would have completed 6 passes but Zach Ertz dropped a pass that would have gone for a first down.  4 of his 5 completions went for first downs, and on the play where he ran for 7 yards, he picked up a first down.  So out of the Redskins’ 10 blitz attempts, the Eagles picked up a first down on half of them.

As a defense, when you blitz it’s a battle of risk vs reward, and you hope that the reward of forcing the offense into a negative play (ie sack, incomplete pass, interception) outweighs the risk (giving up a big play, first down, touch down).  On Sunday, the Eagles won that battle.

Extra Point

Bonus points to me for resisting the urge to name this segment “YACkety YAC, don’t talk back”.